Accessible beach facilities, first introduced by HM Government of Gibraltar in 2015, will again be on offer this year at our local beaches.
People with permanent as well as temporary physical disabilities have the option to use these free facilities. These facilities allow people, who would otherwise be unable to make use of a beach, to enjoy Gibraltar’s beaches during the summer. Specialised equipment, such as amphibious chairs and mobile hoists provide easy transfer facilities from a standard wheelchair to the beach equipment. Beach attendants are also at hand to provide any necessary assistance with the equipment.
The accessibility features at the beaches include ramp access from the road to the pergola units, which provide direct access to the shore at the beaches via “mobi-mats” (synthetic walkways specially designed for the transit of amphibious chairs on the beach). These can be found at Eastern Beach, Catalan Beach and Western Beach. Furthermore, at Camp Bay, an accessible ramp leads to the shore and the main swimming pool is also accessible via a ramp and wide steps. The Bathing Pavilion features motorised hoists to assist people with physical disabilities to enter the pools.
Each unit has a pergola that provides a certain element of privacy to carry out transfers, as well as providing a shaded area for users to enjoy. Further to this, the Accessible Service Unit at Eastern Beach provides a beach tent that can be loaned out for weekly periods, there are also other equipment available like chairs and even snorkeling gear.
Accessible toilets are available at Catalan Bay, Eastern Beach, Western Beach and the Bathing Pavilion, with Changing Place toilets also available at Eastern Beach and Camp Bay, where the facilities at the latter were recently refurbished. The accessible toilet at Camp Bay has also been fitted with a RADAR Key lock, which allows its use by Key holders outside of its normal opening hours.
RADAR Keys and RADAR Key locks are used in accessible toilets by people with certain disabilities who cannot use a standard toilet. Granting a RADAR Key allows the holder to have the freedom to use accessible toilets that are fitted with this special lock at any time and not just when the accessible toilet is open to the general public.
RADAR Keys are available from the Ministry of Equality on the presentation of an application form. This form, as well as further information can be obtained by sending an e-mail to [email protected] or can be downloaded from the website www.gibraltar.gov.gi/department-equality.
Changing Place toilets offer the same facilities as accessible toilets, but also provide extra equipment in the form of overhead hoist systems and height adjustable sized benches and extra space in the room to accommodate extra carers or assistants.
The public are reminded to heed the advice on social gatherings by Public Health. It is important to keep a social distance from other groups.
Minister for Equality, the Hon. Samantha Sacramento, MP, said: “It is great to see some normality gradually coming back to Gibraltar and especially now that the summer is almost here it gives me great pleasure to be able to remind the community of the excellent accessible beach facilities available in Gibraltar. It does not escape us, as a Government, that the tradition of going to the beach as a family, or with friends, in the summer is very important to most Gibraltarians and for this reason we introduced beach facilities so that everyone in our community has the option to enjoy our lovely beaches on offer. We must, however, remain vigilant and not take things for granted, we must remember to maintain social distancing and follow the advice from Public Health.”
The Minister for the Environment and Public Health, the Hon. John Cortes, MP, said:
“I am really pleased at how the Ministry of Equality and my own Department work together to ensure that the whole of our Community enjoys the summer with access to our bathing facilities. This is particularly important this year as we make a cautious return to normality. We will continue to together look at ways of improving even further in the future.”
For further information regarding the accessibility features at our beaches, please call 200 71648.